By Rixon Lane
To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the first 10-win season in Gamecock football history, we will be recapping each of South Carolina's games during the 1984 season. On this day, September 8th, the Gamecocks opened the season against the Bulldogs from The Citadel.
FIRST QUARTER: "You get a fumble…and you get a fumble!"
Citadel receives and punts. South Carolina's first drive is a three-and-out. Citadel goes three-and-out. All the excitement you would expect from two teams that won a combined eight games in 1983.
South Carolina puts a drive together. On a second-and-six, Raynard Brown gets to the outside for a gain of 32. Six plays later, Brown scores the first touchdown of the season, a 10-yard run right through the heart of the Bulldog defense. 7-0 Gamecocks, 5:34 to go in the 1st quarter.
Bulldogs punt again. Three drives into the game and Citadel still hasn't crossed midfield. Allen Mitchell connects with Ira Hillary for a gain of 26. Mitchell and Brown then manage to botch a toss sweep, Bulldogs recover at their own 49. I'm betting they'll cross midfield this time.
Yep, Citadel gets to the Gamecock 31 before fumbling a pitch of their own. Seriously, did teams not practice that play in the 80's?
South Carolina fumbles on the final play of the first quarter. After 15 minutes of Turnoverpalooza, the Gamecocks lead 7-0.
SECOND QUARTER: "It's all going terribly, terribly wrong."
Citadel takes advantage of the great field possession and goes 53 yards in seven plays. Robert Hill tosses a 5-yard touchdown to Victor Frazier and, with 12:47 left in the half, it's all knotted up at 7-7.
Now we're back to punting. Both teams exchange kicks before South Carolina marches to the Bulldog 10. Brown goes around the left end for his second score of the night. Gamecocks back on top, 14-7. 5:33 to go in the half.
Citadel isn't very good at this whole "sacrificial lamb" thing. The Bulldogs cover 78 yards in nine plays, gaining ground on every play of the drive. Hill connects with Lee Glaze from 16 yards out, despite the Gamecocks getting called for pass interference. 14-14 with less than 90 seconds left in the first half.
Oh dear. Bulldogs kick off from the Gamecock 45. Ball goes out of bounds. Citadel has to kick again from midfield and Brown fumbles at the 30. Citadel ball in fantastic field position. Six plays later, Hill throws an 18-yard touchdown to Kip Ruark. 21-14 Bulldogs.
And, as a cherry on top of this monstrosity of a quarter, Mitchell's desperation heave to end the half is intercepted. Lovely. Citadel leads 21-14 at halftime. Yes, that Citadel.
THIRD QUARTER: "Pass party!"
Yippee, Gamecocks open the second half with a three-and-out. Citadel is forced to punt, but Jerry Dunlap fumbles (of course). Fortunately, Chris Major falls on the ball at Gamecock seven yard line.
Mitchell begins to heat up. An 18-yard completion to Eric Poole and a 43-yard strike to Ira Hillary pushes the ball into Bulldog territory. On 3rd down at the 14, Mitchell is rushed and throws incomplete. Scott Hagler drills a 31-yard field goal to cut Citadel's lead to 21-17. 6:40 to go in the third quarter.
Citadel punt, Gamecock punt, Citadel punt. South Carolina takes over at midfield. Mitchell and Hillary hook up for a 50-yard touchdown and South Carolina has a 24-21 lead with 51 seconds left in the quarter.
We go to the fourth quarter, with South Carolina up by three.
FOURTH QUARTER: "It's going to be a looooooong year."
The first four drives of the quarter end in punts. The Gamecock defense is standing tall, but the offense can't put the game away. Citadel with the ball at South Carolina's 41.
Now the Bulldogs are running downhill on the Gamecocks. A completion for six yards, followed by an eight-yard run, seven-yard run, four-yard run, six-yard run. Gamecocks force a 3rd-and-four from the 10. Hill tries to hit Glaze in the end zone, but it falls incomplete. Citadel settles for a 26-yard field goal and we're tied at 24-24. 4:20 remaining.
Gamecocks take over at their own 17. Mitchell drives them to the 26, then hits Chris Corley for a 21-yard gain on 3rd-and-13. Gamecocks move to the Bulldog 40. On first down, Quinton Lewis take a pitch to the left, retreats all the way back to midfield, and finds a wide-open Chris Wade for the 40-yard touchdown. Trickeration and South Carolina leads 31-24 with 1:02 to play.
No. No, no, no, no, no, no nooooooooo. Citadel returns the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to the Gamecock 18. This is what happens when you wear black jerseys and white pants instead of just wearing garnet like God intended.
First down Bulldogs at the 18. Hill throws incomplete. Citadel penalized for delay of game. An incompletion brings up 3rd-and-15. Hill scrambles for a yard. On 4th-and-14, Otis Morris intercepts the pass and South Carolina kneels to seal the victory.
South Carolina 31 The Citadel 24.
P.S. The Bulldogs would go 7-4 that year, winning six of their final seven contests. The Gamecocks get a bye week before hosting the Duke Blue Devils.